Our Top Picks from the 2017 Man Booker International Prize Longlist

Great literature makes great travel inspiration, and the Man Booker International Prize is the epitome of great literature.

October 2017 • Jules Verne

Our Top Picks from the 2017 Man Booker International Prize Longlist

It honours outstanding pieces of translated fiction from all around the world. It runs as a counterpart to the Man Booker Prize, whose 2017 winner, George Saunders, was announced this week.

Inspired by this, we have revisited the 2017 International Prize longlist and picked our favourites reads, all set in incredible countries that you can visit on a Jules Verne tour.

The Explosion Chronicles by Yan Lianke

Four families tied together by greed, driven by desire and ambition, and polarized by love and hate – this is the perfect set-up for a thrilling novel. Yan Lianke’s latest masterpiece, The Explosion Chronicles, documents the rapid expansion of a small rural community into a mammoth megalopolis in post-Mao China.

Lianke has an undisputed talent for capturing the absurd and outrageous occurrences that have built modern-day China. His thought-provoking satire confronts the dark realities and side effects of capitalism. As he intertwines historical events and fiction, it becomes increasingly difficult to separate reality from fantasy. This page-turner is a must-read for anyone wishing to understand how the past sixty years have shaped this fascinating country.

Those wanting to experience China for themselves have a variety of tour options with Jules Verne. On our Discover China Tour, see two very different Chinas – the peaceful countryside and the metropolitan cities.

Compass by Mathias Enard

French author Mathias Enard returns with another show-stopping novel, brilliantly depicting the misconception of Orientalism within Western culture. Compass is a journey through an Austrian musicologist’s web of tangled dreams and memories.  During a single night, he takes readers on a wondrous journey throughout the Middle East, exploring ancient cities and an impressive array of intellectuals, musicians and travellers.

This immersive novel delves into timely themes of otherness, connection and cultural appropriation. It also acts as a love letter to the Middle East, particularly Syria and Iran. Compass has been hailed as one of the most politically pertinent books of the year, bridging East and West, as well as past and future.

Fall in love with the Middle East on a Jules Verne tour. Our Return to Persepolis Tour covers the impressive ruins in Iran, tracing the old Persian Empire from Tehran to Shiraz to Isfahan.

The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen

Set in the early 20th century, The Unseen examines the bond between a Norwegian family and their island home. The land is inextricably linked to each character. It encompasses their livelihood and survival, their hopes and dreams, and their dark, unescapable fears. The novel explores what happens when our appetites grow beyond simple pleasures and basic needs. How do we cope with an evolving world, especially if those closest to us want to stay the same?

Jacobsen is an iconic Norwegian writer, and this is one of his finest works. An extraordinarily moving novel set against the breathtaking Norwegian landscape, it will stay with you for a long time after the final page.

Embark on our Arctic Wonders and Imperial Treasures Tour to discover Norway’s natural world. Cruise through the scenic terrain, visit a Sámi Village and maybe catch a glimpse of the famous Northern Lights.

Fish Have No Feet by Jon Kalman Stefansson

Award-winning author Jon Kalman Stefansson presents this epic Icelandic tale. Fish Have No Feet will transport readers to Keflavik, perhaps the darkest town in Iceland, an eerie place of black lava with an unfishable sea.

The story centres on Ari, a writer who returns to his childhood home in Keflavik on request from his dying father. On arrival, Ari is inundated by memories of his youth, his family and his first love. Set across three periods of history, the novel traces the marriages of Ari, his father and his grandfather. Through their stories, it explores multigenerational themes of love and loss, with lyrical prose that pulls readers in.

Intrigued by Iceland? Discover this unforgettable island on our Ice and Lights Tour. Swim in hot springs, wander black volcanic beaches and visit rushing waterfalls.  

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

Saving our favourite for last, Samanta Schweblin’s novel Fever Dream is a remarkable accomplishment in thrill and suspense. Set in Argentina, this dark book will have you gripped from the first page as you delve deeper into its mind-bending universe.

The novel is told entirely through dialogue between Amanda, a woman from Buenos Aires on holiday in the countryside, and David, a young boy who is not her son. Amanda is in the hospital, terminally ill, and the reader doesn’t know why. As details emerge – David is the son of Amanda’s neighbour, Carla, who believes he has literally become a monster – the picture becomes clearer, but no less disturbing. Each sentence of this novel builds a sense of distress and cumulative dread, keeping you riveted until the end.

For a more joyous South American experience, tour Argentina and Brazil on our Hot Samba, Cool Tango Tour. Musical and cultural diversity abound as you dance in Buenos Aires and Salvador, and immerse yourself in nature at mighty Iguassu Falls.  

For more literary travel inspiration, read our Jules Verne Reads series.

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